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Backstreet Boy gives back

By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News

Howie Dorough
Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough and his family started the Dorough Lupus Foundation in his sister Caroline’s honor.

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(CNN) -- Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys is known as "the quiet one." But when it comes to the disease that took his sister Caroline's life he is anything but quiet.

When we met recently in Atlanta, he told me that most people have never even heard of lupus, and his sister didn't like to talk about it.

The Arthritis Foundation defines lupus as a disease that results in pain and swelling in various joints and organs of the body, sometimes including the heart and lungs.

"She would have the chronic coughing and swelling of the joints, but it was not until the last five years, especially the last three years, that I really noticed a difference. She was not able to keep up as much."

On the heels of a Backstreet Boys victory at the 1998 MTV Music Awards, Dorough's brother called with news no family member wants to hear.

"About 5 o'clock in the morning, he called me and told me, 'I think she has taken a turn for the worse. I think you need to get down as soon as possible.' The only people that were not there were me and my dad. We tried to get there as soon as possible, but we ended up missing her by an hour when she passed away."

Caroline's doctor offered Dorough a way to continue his sister's legacy.

"He sat me down and said, 'You being who you are and having celebrity status, you could possibly make a difference with this disease.'"

So Dorough and his family started a foundation in Caroline's honor. Dorough's entire family is involved with the Dorough Lupus Foundation, from sister Angie, who runs the day-to-day activities, to sister Pollyanna, who wrote the foundation's theme song, "Fly to Heaven."

Dorough says the foundation funds medical research, helps families that cannot afford medication and is involved in educating the public.

"To me the biggest thing is creating awareness of the word Lupus ... educating people to put the word in their mind."



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